Mind blown – a weekend of revision and new learning.

Several of the team here at NESL HQ have today figuratively had our minds blown. Since Friday, Suzie and Madeleine (along with 4 other ladies) have been completing their Slingababy Consultancy training (more details of that to come direct from them in next few days). For them this meant a trip to Birtley and the Thought Foundation Building, rather than a road trip to Rugby. The 4 days of this course when I completed it in 2014 completely changed how I function and work as a consultant, I hope they are having similar revelations. From the expressions I have witnessed from both, I think it is safe they have!

One of the reasons I am such a strong advocate for training with Slingababy is that once you have completed the course you can reattend as many times as you wish. With a course arranged just 20 minutes from my home, it meant I had the opportunity to reattend for the first time. Due to work commitments, this means I have been only able to attend days 2 and 3 but those two days have been amazing. Despite already completing this course, I cannot believe how much I taken onboard over the past two days. My brain is in overdrive as it processes the information it’s received and makes connections between my past learning and experience, and what I have learned this weekend.

Here is just a sneak peak at what we have been up to. As of Tuesday, Madeleine and Suzie will both be available for 1:1 appointments and they have some plans up their sleeves too.

Slinging New Year’s Resolutions

Hands up? Have you made a New Year’s Resolution?  Was it financial, health, educational or technological related? As these are often in lists of the most popular. Or have you made a slinging resolution? 

Many of us will have set ourselves targets for 2017. In the USA approx. 45% of individuals will have made a New Year’s Resolution. This figure in UK is around 32-35%. But roughly only 50% manage to stick to them for the 6 months (8% the year), although around 3/4 of us manage to stick to them for at least a week.

In terms of your New Years Resolution – have you written it down? Told someone what it is? How are you going to ensure you keep it? Sharing them with others apparently can help us to stick to them.

I have set myself the target of selling my personal collection of ring slings as our carrying days are over. So far I have asked Isaac to pick one to keep –  as I want to keep one each for the boys (Silver Waves for Henry, our Dyed Roses Zen for Isaac) – but at the minute this is as far as I have got.  The bag of slings is sitting there looking at me. I want to be successful and have told the sling library users this is my resolution and I am hoping this will assist me in keeping it. My bank balance would certainly appreciate me selling some slings.

So I asked the users of the sling library what their Slinging New Years Resolutions are.  Some like me want to sell our slings as our babies are no longer babies, others want to learn a new skill (e.g learning to wrap or improving their wrapping skills), and others want to try and ‘sling it only’. I have read at least two comments for mums saying the want to “stop buying slings”, and the opposite is true for a couple too. 

Julie’s slinging resolution:

Mine is to give a serious go to using a single pram and a sling for my 19mo and her baby sibling due to arrive next month. I don’t really understand why, but I desperately don’t want a double pram!

In a similar light, Charlotte would like to: “Go out proper hiking with sling, need to work out logistics! Like how to carry the rest of the stuff!”

My favourite are from Madeleine and Lucie (both peer supporters) who want to help enable more people to carry. Babywearing is a lovely sharing community and this is seen by the way people want to help others.

I suppose our slinging resolutions fit pretty well with general New Year’s Resolutions too: spend less/save more, personal development/mastering a new skill and even decluttering. I am here for 1:1 appointments if you want to develop your skills – learn to wrap or master a back carry. Just visit the  consultancy pages of our website to make your booking. 

I can’t though promise to help you destash but maybe if we do it together we might just be successful.

Links and photos 




Stock photos used free of charge from Pixabay under common use licence. The photos of me are mine and copyright belongs to me.

A little request from an exhausted Sling Librarian

cash-1138036_1920Many moons ago I wrote this article for the Natural Mamas website: A plea from a Sling Librarian. It was an attempt to explain a little more about what I do, and what my life entails. It was written after a spate of “requests”. Time has come to update it.

The sling library is currently my sole source of income. It became my full time job in September 2013. For the last 3 years I have our my heart and soul into it. I have always tried to be as flexible as possible on arranging events, creating new meets and out of hours hires. I have been known to make 3 or 4 visits a day to the post office to get slings posted across the country as soon as requested, even taking them with me on holiday so I can post from the nearest post office. post-box-1335582_1920

I work and run NESL primarily alone with support from a lovely bunch of ladies who peer support. Working by myself though does not mean I work in isolation. I have colleagues and friends across the country who are all helping their region to carry their babies too. We have our own support networks where we can chat and ask for help. Where newer libraries  seek the advice of more established ones. Where we ask if they have experienced x,y or z. But, over recent months I have noticed something. I have noticed librarians becoming frustrated, upset, and some simply wanting to give it up. I have read comments in various Facebook groups moaning about local library. Why?

We live in a 24 hours a day/365 days a year fast food, fast service culture. We have grown expectant that our question will be answered instantly, when they aren’t we often take to Social Media to complain. An entitlement culture has developed in our day to day lives. Unfortunately this has an impact on the services sling libraries provide. Many are run on a voluntary basis. A few like myself provide our income and others pay their staff as part of a CIC. However, no matter what model they operate under we should not need to be ‘on duty’ 24/7. We should not be expected to reply instantly (even if Facebook has for the past year had the responsiveness button). We have our own families. We have our own opening hours. We are allowed a day off.

Over the past few months I have seen how other librarians, as well as myself, have to face this attitude of entitlement daily. We have faced comments such as:

“It’s too far for me to return” (please remember that for 7/10 sessions I travel to them too), “We have swimming (or any other baby class) at that time”, “that’s when my baby naps”, “Its’ too expensive”, “I can’t afford deposit”. Others are worse, “I haven’t used it so don’t think its fair you keep my money”, “can’t you come and collect”, “I see you live nearby can I simply pop in”, “I can’t return today, I’ll bring it tomorrow”.

brothers-457234_1920The last of those comments is particularly frustrating as it assumes we have nothing else to do but wait for you to come. When you hire you are given a date it is due for return, by hiring you agree to those terms. If your library operates a deposit system and you can’t afford it ask if there is an alternative you can do. You won’t know unless you ask. Yes, I am aware that best laid plans with babies don’t always run smoothly.  I know babies can have a bad night, they might be poorly, you might just simply need to sleep. We aren’t ogre’s: we are mums, we do understand. If you contact us and explain solutions can be found, but sending us messages after slings were due back, or telling us what you are going to do is not appropriate. You would not tell your GP or hairdresser – “I can’t do that time, I’ll just come now” etc. You would accept that they give you an appointment. Why should a sling library be any different?doctor sign

If we make a recommendation for a carrier based on the size of your child, do not ask us to give you a toddler or preschool size, when we have judged it is not suitable. If you decide to buy that size, that’s your choice, but don’t ask us to go against manufacturer instructions or recommendations, or product recalls, so that you can carry, that would invalidate our insurance. We are wanting to keep your baby safe, it isn’t us being mean. Don’t ask for a one to one service and not expect to pay a fee. We have insurance, training, overheads to pay. We can’t afford to give our services away. We are just trying to make a living; pay our mortgages, allow our little ones to go to clubs on trips, we are not huge multinational companies.

I will continue to do my best to be flexible. Currently, for example, I can’t do 1;1 appointments due to my annual exam marking season but I am ensuring sling library sessions run, I am still offering postal hire. Out of hours hires are offered if I can do it. This is getting increasingly difficult as my children are doing an increasing number of clubs and mums taxi is in full flow.

Please, I simply ask that you consider how you phrase your request. Please ‘ask’ your sling library if you can do something,  don’t tell them what you are going to do.  All sling librarians want to help as many families as possible so there is always a solution. We just ask that you accept we aren’t on call 24/7 and,  that even if we are a business, our families will come first.

The day I have been dreading arrived.

Yesterday was a day of celebration as we attended a family wedding. It also marked a milestone. It was the first major occasion where I didn’t sling. 

Despite Isaac getting up at 4.50am,  he never flagged. He sang, danced and partied the night away until 9.40pm when exhausted he did collapse. Henry was also tired, so it was time to go home. I did have a Ring Sling with me: a Woven Wings Leaf Gold conversion, chosen as it matched my outfit. It was also the sling Isaac had chosen from the two available. The other being a Pavo Coy Hearts ring sling conversion.

I was sad. My husband didn’t let me out Isaac in the sling at 9.40 as he said it was “for your benefit only”. Carrying Isaac has been part of my parenting toolkit. Slings are part of my fabric. I can honestly say I felt heartbroken. My baby is not a baby anymore. He starts school in September. Last night when he was exhausted I wanted to carry him. It is what I have always done. I did feel like part of me was missing. The carries we have had over the last 4 years have been a major part of our relationship. They are what got us through the difficult days, the lack of sleep, reflux, the sleep apnea, teething, countless chest infections and just those bad days. Now to embrace the in arms cuddles from the fiercely independent little boy.

How did you cope when your carrying journey came to an end? Yesterday my ring sling lived in my bag, until eventually it was used as a shawl.

Book Review: Why Babywearing Matters.

I have been looking forward to reading Why Babywearing Matters by Dr Rosie Knowles of the Sheffield Sling Surgery for as long as I have known she was going to write it. Babywearing and the reasons to do it, are an area which is lacking in ‘proper’ research. The books that currently exist leave a very large gap. They are either extremely anti-high street carrier or appear “too hippy” to warrant reading. I have many of them here.

rosie closed shoulderRosie’s extremely popular blog and article pieces for her own and other websites are frequently shared in the groups I am a member of. Rosie, like me, is keen to produce content that is educational, not sensationalist. We both pride ourselves on researching what we write. I was therefore not surprised when I found out that Pinter and Martin had asked her to contribute to their “Why it Matters” series. Rosie is a highly respected babywearing professional and I am honoured to call her a friend. Being friends, though, did not mean I would automatically agree with what she had written or enjoy the book; but do you know what. I loved it. I read it in just under 8 hours cover to cover, I could not put it down.

Why Babywearing Matters is 160 pages of well written, easy to read, perfection. The pocket friendly size and price are bonuses too. Rosie has written it in a way that as a sling consultant makes sense to my brain.  It addresses the common questions, queries and myths I spend my days answering. It is set out in such a way that each chapter flows from one to the other.

Even though as a babywearing professional I knew much of the content in places this book had my in tears. The ability to combine the research, practice and real life accounts eloquently explains why carrying, whether in arms or in a carrier matters. Babies want and need to be held. In Why Babywearing Matters, this simple fact is kept central. The reasons using a sling  helps are explained clearly in a way which is clear to understand. It is not preachy in the slightest. As Rosie explains on page seven; “responding to a child’s cry is an instinctive, natural activity”, by carrying our children we can respond almost instantly to that need and it can help make our life easier. There are number of real life experiences included. The one by Emma on page 24 describing the  way life changes after having a baby in a way no one can possible explain sums up why babywearing helps.

“I remember the complete bewilderment when my daughter arrived. I can only describe it as clawing at the root of your soul when she clings on to be held. There is something so completely basic and human about carrying”.


The 11 chapters (including introduction and conclusion) include sufficient detail that babywearing educators like myself can learn something new, but also, it is written in a way that is completely accessible for new parents. There are a plethora of ‘parenting books’ on the market but none explain in so much clarity why that new baby doesn’t want putting down or why they are so happy in their mothers arms. Personally my understanding of how babies brains function, allowed me as a new parent, to ignore comments telling me I should or should not do something, it allowed me to trust my instincts and do what felt right. Society unfortunately does not have the same understanding and is all to often happy to accept: “well I did it this way and it did no harm”, or believe people when they say “you’re spoiling him”, “you’ll create a rod for your own back”. Why Babywearing Matters provides new parents (and wider society) with the clear explanations of why we aren’t spoiling them.

The chapters on Basics of Carrying and Getting Started provide new parents with a good understanding of types of slings. The linking to and referencing of the role Babywearing Consultants and sling libraries will help get the message about the skills we offer. I am a strong believer that if you give parents the skills to parent they will succeed. If you tell them they can’t do something, they will find it difficult. The day I was told ‘its ok, you don’t have too’ when I was sat sobbing because my eldest would not be put down was the day I became the mother I am today. I hope Why Babywearing Matters will give other parents the confidence to parent as they want to parent.

Rosie, you have written a truly wonderful book and you deserve the accolades it is getting. Well done. My only complaint, it wasn’t long enough. I am now planning on re-reading it again as it was over too quickly the first time.

11870676_10153666593231019_2233709127449151806_nDisclaimer: I was sent this book to review by Pinter&Martin but I was not paid to do so. The views are my own. My friendship with Rosie Knowles is well known and I have been lucky enough to know about this book from the beginning. However, I have not let this cloud my judgement. I have read Why Babywearing Matters in the same way I would read any book and would say if I did not agree or did not like it.